Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and mental illnesses are common and treatable. So much of what we do physically impacts us mentally – it’s important to pay attention to both your physical health and your mental health, which can help you achieve overall wellness and set you on a path to recovery. A healthy lifestyle can help to prevent the onset or worsening of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, as well as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other chronic health problems. It can also play a big role in helping people recover from these conditions. Taking good care of your body is part of a Before Stage Four approach to mental health.

There is a strong link between mental health and physical health, but little is known about the pathways from one to the other. We analyze the direct and indirect effects of past mental health on present physical health and past physical health on present mental health using lifestyle choices and social capital in a mediation framework. We use data on 10,693 individuals aged 50 years and over from six waves (2002–2012) of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

Mental health is measured by the Centre for Epidemiological Studies (CES) Depression Scale and physical health by the Activities of Daily Living (ADL). We find significant direct and indirect effects for both forms of health, with indirect effects explaining 10% of the effect of past mental health on physical health and 8% of the effect of past physical health on mental health. Physical activity is the largest contributor to the indirect effects. There are stronger indirect effects for males in mental health (9.9%) and for older age groups in mental health (13.6%) and in physical health (12.6%). Health policies aiming at changing physical and mental health need to consider not only the direct cross-effects but also the indirect cross-effects between mental health and physical health.

Physical and mental health are much more connected than many people realize. The mind-body connection is real. This means that taking care of your physical health can help improve your mental health. Making simple changes to lifestyle habits — such as physical activity, diet, and sleep — can go a long way toward boosting how you feel inside and out. Here’s how this works — and some tips to help you get started.

Wellness means overall well-being. It includes the emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual aspects of a person’s life. Incorporating aspects of the Eight Dimensions of Wellness, such as choosing healthy foods, forming strong relationships, and exercising often, into everyday habits can help people live longer and improve quality of life. The Eight Dimensions of Wellness may also help people better manage their condition and experience recovery. This short animated video explores the Eight Dimensions of Wellness and helps people understand the practical strategies and ways they can begin developing healthy habits that can have a positive impact on their physical and mental health.

Lissa Rankin, MD is an OB/GYN physician, author, keynote speaker, consultant to health care visionaries, professional artist, and founder of the women’s health and wellness community OwningPink.com. Discouraged by the broken, patriarchal health care system, she left her medical practice in 2007 only to realize that you can quit your job, but you can’t quit your calling. This epiphany launched her on a journey of discovery that led her to become a leader in the field of mind/body medicine, which she blogs about at OwningPink.com and is writing about in her third book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself (Hay House, 2013).

She teaches both patients and health care professionals how to make the body ripe for miracles by healing the mind and being healthy in all aspects of life, not just by promoting healthy behaviors like good nutrition, exercise, and adequate sleep, but by encouraging health and authenticity in relationships, work, creative expression, spirituality, sexuality, finances, and living environment. She is leading a revolution to feminize how health care is received and delivered by encouraging collaboration, fostering self-healing, reconnecting health care and spirituality,
empowering patients to tap into the mind’s power to heal the body, and encouraging women not to settle for being merely well, but to strive for living vital, joyful, authentic lives full of “mojo.”

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If you are feeling stressed & need to talk with a professional, please reach out to the Student Wellness Staff at cresswellt@lackawanna.edu.